morning wake up

“There are two ways of waking up in the morning.
One is to say, ‘Good morning, God,’
and the other is to say,
‘Good God, morning’!”

― Fulton J. Sheen

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(a deer who uses my flowerbed as a mattress / Julie Cook / 2016)

I don’t know who was more surprised…
me or the deer.

Come each morning, as I roll out of bed,
I immediately head to the laundry room in order to grab the cats their food.
It never fails, as soon as my feet hit the floor, the cats make certain that I don’t do a single thing other than feed them.
It is as if they will immediately perish if I fail to fill their food bowls the nanosecond I’m up.

As I make my way to get the cat food, bypassing my sacred cup of coffee, the ritualistic trip to the loo,
I instinctively open the shutters, casting the welcomed morning light into what was my nightly shuttered world of darkness.

On this particular morning, as I routinely pull open the shutters…
imagine my surprise… when, what do I spy sitting directly outside the window… in my flower bed,
a deer who had obviously decided to bed down…on top of my daylilies no less!

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The signs have been there for weeks.

Bushes and plants nipped down to the nubs.
Most of which have had to have been dug up and now replaced with “deer” resistant plants…..
while allowing other plants and bushes to simply fend for themselves…

I knew that the deer had been enjoying themselves in the middle of the night…
using my yard as a giant salad bowl…
but here before my bleary eyes was one of the nonplused culprits.
One who took her own sweet time readying herself for the day.

Eventually she and her baby fawn roused themselves from bed, as they made their way to the edge of the woods where they would no doubt spend the heat of the day, simply waiting to come back to feast at night in my yard….

As I’m off to Atlanta to take Dad for his pre-op before Friday’s surgery…

A happy Monday to deer and all…..

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”

Isaiah 12:4-6

sweet and precious

“Promise me you’ll always remember:
You’re braver than you believe,
and stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think.”

A.A. Milne

Ordinary riches can be stolen;
real riches cannot.
In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.

Oscar Wilde

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(our resident fawn / Julie Cook / 2016)

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Blessings for a peace filled Sunday….

Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;

Isaiah 43:4-5

Innocence and wonderment…

“In any case, you must remember, my dearest,
that the main strength of innocence is innocence itself.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”
Albert Einstein

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(an alert fawn in the backyard / Julie Cook / 2016)

It is now time that we all just stop for a moment.

Time to stop with all the…
malice and ill intent.

It is time to stop the…
polarization,
the divisions,
the anger,
the lies,
the slandering,
the accusatory nonsense…

It is time we stop just long enough….
Just long enough to remember…
to remember and recall that there is still a world…
a world where we can find…
innocence,
joy,
wonderment,
rapture,

A world still full of the…
amazing
miraculous
mystifying
and the loving…

A world where God’s Grace still remains…

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 8-10

small joys

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”
Arthur Conan Doyle

“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”
― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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(a fawn licks his lips as mom nibbles the grass / Julie Cook / 2015)

Sometimes it is the simplest and smallest moments which graciously offer abundant joy.

Lost in thought in the early morning hours,
sitting silently alone. . .or so it seemed. . .
Company arrives for breakfast. . .

Unbeknownst to my company, I sit out of sight, relishing in the gift of their presence.
In this snapshot of time, lives mix and mysteriously intertwine into one.
There is appreciation for the simple. . .
And happiness witnessed in the exuberance of youth.

Spirits lift and thanksgiving is offered to the Creator of all life. . .
both mine and theirs.
What appears as a random encounter is not missed by Omnipotence.
The crossing of paths is an offering of both tenderness and joy. . .
to one who is weary of body and spirit.

A silent and contented Amen is carried aloft in the morning light. . .

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“Don’t just do something, stand there…” says the Rabbit

I’m late!
I’m late!
For a very important date!
No time to say
“hello”, goodbye!
I’m late!
I’m late!!
I’m late!!!

No, no, no, no
I’m overdue!
I’m really in a stew!
No time to say “goodbye”, hello!
I’m late!
I’m late!!
I’m late!!!

As I made my way outside this morning in order to move some chairs onto the back deck, before I started mopping the house, I spy the most delightful image….

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There was such a sense of contentment radiating from this little deer, as it bedded down in the warm sun, waiting on mom to finish breakfast. I felt tremendously privileged to be a solitary witness to this most wonderful interaction between a doe and her fawn. I too suddenly was overcome by a quieting sense of contentment–a most welcomed feeling of peace.

Our lives are lived at such frantic paces. We desperately fight to turn a single 24 hour period of time into at least a 30 hour day. I fear however 30 hours would never be enough. Dashing about, no time to eat, no time to see loved ones, no time to sleep…no time, no time…we’re late, we’re late, always for the proverbial important date.

We dash about like the poor frenzied White Rabbit in Lewis Carol’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland–making no sense in our rantings as we run from one appointment to the next….With Time always the silent enemy.

“What do you know about a frenetic pace Julie? Aren’t you some kind of retired educator? Isn’t your home the celebrated empty nest? What do you know about my busy life….?” I hear you…and I know sadly a great deal about spending a life on the go. I use to think, and rightly so, that my child spent more time in the car and at school than he ever spent at our home.

I was the “queen of squeeze”—squeezing precious seconds out of minutes, minutes out of hours, hours out of days….and the most pitiful of all, life out of me and my family—-my gut in knots, my nerves frayed, my stress high, my time filled and my life slipping silently away…for what you ask? I in turn ask you the same, “For what?”

Why do we live our lives sucking the life out of the clock? Why do we think we have to cram all of our minutes full with all the needless activities–our children are over scheduled, we, ourselves are over scheduled. Is the world a better place because we race around mindlessly from one meeting, class, activity, conference to another thinking, wrongly, that we are most important because we are most busy…..

I am grateful for the moments such as this morning. Time stops…or actually I stop, time continues rushing past I, however, gratefully stop. This single moment is frozen in time and I am frozen along with it…privy to a single moment of contented blessed peace.

I exhale. Had I been holding my breath? How long? How long have I been standing here, starring? Relishing. Seeing. Being….happy, content?

Don’t always be in such a hurry. Listen to the Rabbit–don’t just do something…stand there… to see, to breath, to live…..

New Kid on the block

“I would like to recapture that freshness of vision which is characteristic of extreme youth when all the world is new to it.”
Henri Matisse

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The other morning when I was sitting out on the back deck, having my coffee while working on the day’s blog post, I kept hearing the oddest sound… whomp whomp, whomp…What in the world?? Percy, our rescued cat, was sitting outside with me enjoying his morning ritual of watching the hummingbirds. “Percy, what in the world are you doing?” I ask looking around for him but noticing he’s no longer outside. My attention is suddenly drawn down to the yard as I immediately realize what I’m hearing.

Running full throttle back and forth, and around in circles is this most happy fawn. His mother is nibbling grass near-by as her child is happily running wind sprints across my yard. He’s running so hard that I can actually hear him breathing, rather heavily, as he swoops down below the deck. “The camera, where in the heck is the camera when I need it?!” I chide myself silently. Slowly I edge myself up out of the chair, ever so gently inching my way to the kitchen door to fetch the camera.

By the time I get the camera, turn it on in the house so as not to let them hear me, both mother and son have worked their way to the edge of the yard by the woods as noted by the above posted image.

The day before I had also found myself without my camera when I was out working in the garden. I was working my way down a row of okra, snipping the mature tender pods and trimming leaves when suddenly I look up only to see this same fawn standing no more than 20 feet from me.

He looked as if he’d just gotten up from his afternoon nap. It was around 3PM and the afternoon sun had warmed things up considerably as dripping sweat stung my eyes. I realized he hadn’t seen me as I was somewhat shrouded by the tall okra plants. If I could just edge my way over to the basket to fetch my phone, I’d be able to snap his picture. He looked full of energy as he hopped up and down like a miniature broncin’ buck. As I slowly slipped down the row to my basket, grabbing the phone, I raise up slowly setting up for the picture when suddenly I notice he’s disappeared into the tall grass on the other side of the fence by the back pasture—vanishing into no where.

I always worry about the new fawns as the coyotes have become prolific in our area. The two fawns from last year, which I wrote a post about a month ago, I can only hope they survived and will be back this fall to feed. If it’s not the coyotes, or the hunters, it’s the cars. I suppose mama deers have just as much to worry about over their children just as we human parents do….ode to parenthood I suppose.

It’s these little most delightful and truly magical glimpses into nature that I so greatly cherish. Be it the screeching hawk circling overhead as I work out in the yard, the annoying mocking bird momma who swoops down over my head as I wander too near to the bush that I know is home to her fledgeling, to the mysterious emergence of the tiger swallowtail from its cocoon…I always consider myself so fortunate being a part of this still often “wild” world of ours. These are the moments when I am happy living out as we do… away from subdivisions and neighborhoods.

On this new morning of a new week, I wish for you a glimpse into our ever shrinking “wild” world…be it the blur of the dashing and darting hummingbird to the sneaky little chameleon lizard slinking past the potted geraniums—it’s at these most precious moments when I’m reminded that I’m still just a small piece of this very large planet. Be happy and joyful, full of energy and just happy to be alive as this young fawn–enjoy the day—as we are not guaranteed tomorrow, make the most of today, as today is truly all we are sure of—
now where did I put my camera…………..

the neighborhood kids

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“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.”

Martin Buber

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I grew up in Atlanta during the 1960’s. For all the world’s angst during the turbulent 60s’— between Vietnam protests, the birth of the hippies/flower children and the “Peace Movement” to woman’s lib, Woodstock, Hell’s Angels…my world was pretty oblivious. I lived on a street that was/is known as a “court”—a road that is a dead-end but actually has a rounded ending allowing cars to flow back out down the street as they came in. Ten houses were/are still on the street. Five of the houses had kids with another having visiting grandkids.

It was a wonderful place for kids—a relative safe enclave as the cars coming and going were, for the majority, residents of the street all knowing to watch out, as we were constantly taking over the street. We used the court end as a baseball field, as the location for the can in our night games of “kick the can”, as a roller skating rink, our bike raceway and as a basketball court as one neighbor erected a basketball backboard and net on the telephone pole.

Every house’s back yard was fair game for us. One yard was particularly ideal for a neighborhood game of football. This neighbor had a nice boat that he kept flipped over on two sawhorses that provided a wonderful place to “play” pirates….no one thought of the danger of the boat falling on any of us. At any moment a neighbor could peek out a window catching a glimpse of a young person running past, moving towards the next adventure—as surrounding the houses on one side of the strew were “the woods” and on the other side of the street, back behind those houses, was “the creek”.

With adventure and imagined danger lurking at every turn we were in childhood heaven in the middle of the big city. There were pine straw forts in the woods, with sand bar islands claimed as territory up and down the creek. I suppose back then parents didn’t worry perhaps as they do today. We could spend all day in woods and creek, not returning home until sundown all without any parents batting an eye.

My mother had an antique cow bell she’d ring, stepping out the back door swinging that thing back and forth—I was so embarrassed as it sounded as if the whole world knew the Nichols kids had to hurry home. But that only meant running in to grab a jar, complete with lid, hurrying back out to catch the summer’s arriving lightning bugs or fire flies.

It was an ideal time and way of growing up—or so it seemed to us—the violence of today just didn’t seem to exist, and if it did, it was far removed from our world. There were not the sexual predators we hear of almost daily today, or if there were, we didn’t know about it. We longed for the ice cream man to come to our street, not ever thinking he could be someone who would do harm to kids.
We walked the mile to and from elementary school, our parents never imaging that doing so could put any of us at risk for “disappearing”—thank God—thank God for that innocence of time.

Our lemonade stand was actually an ice tea stand—we made all of $2—and were proud of it. With only 10 houses our “business” was a bit limited and not “booming”. The greatest tragedy was when my cat wandered down to the busier street that our street emptied into. My dad constantly warned us to never ever go down to that street as cars just zipped up and down. Our bus stop was located on the corner and that was as far as we could go unescorted.

My Charcoal unfortunately wandered one night too far. We found him, as we all made our way to the bus stop one morning—everyone started yelling about the run-over dead cat, of which I explained was simply sleeping. I was in the first grade, what did I know?! On further inspection we all realized it was my cat. I remember running all the way back to the house, crying hysterically. My dad had to go get him in order to bury him in our backyard—-how many pets are still there in that yard…..

My Dad and step-mom still live in the house. Things have changed very little yet there are subtleties—the kids are all grown and gone, and even their children, the grandchildren are now grown. The street has only 3 of the original owners remaining and is mostly silent now. The urban sprawl of the city has grown and is encroaching more and more on the “neighborhood” but the street is still dreamlike and peaceful. I wouldn’t let any child walk to school today, or play in the polluted creek, or in what remains of any woods that has yet been developed. Dad doesn’t know the names of the neighbors….and I never see anyone out when I go to visit but maybe a passing jogger….sadly the innocence seems to have faded away….pity

Today I want to share with you my neighborhood’s kids. Well, I can’t say that I really live in a neighborhood as I am surrounded by woods and pastures but I still have kids that I can catch a glimpse of running past my window. These kids may not be as friendly as we were, but they still enjoy running around the yard, chasing and being chased….investigating this and that and simply having fun just “hanging out”…

I’ve had the joy and pleasure of watching these two grow up since this past winter….hopefully, they will be back with their children soon……as I hope my yard can maintain an innocence for them……